New Hampshire Presidential Primary 2016

Posted February 11, 2016

How did Sanders and Trump really do in New Hampshire? Our maps help tell the story.

The results of Tuesday's presidential primary in New Hampshire have the political world buzzing. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders resoundingly won the Democratic primary over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Reality TV personality Donald Trump won the Republican primary. All eyes are now on the next round of primary elections to be held later this month, especially in South Carolina, and then the bulk of the states that hold their primaries this spring.

Screenshot of CUR Director Steven Romalewski on NY 1 news

The maps below show how the winning candidates fared, and reveal important differences in the strength (or not) of their support in the Granite State. If nothing else, the maps demonstrate how uneven a candidate's support can be from one part of the state to the other. Maps of the Democratic primary in 2008 and Republican primary in 2012 are provided for comparison.

It's too soon to tell what this week's results will mean for primary elections in other states, but the mapped vote counts help offset the hype and spin with clear visuals and numbers.  CUR's Steven Romalewski was interviewed on NY1's Inside City Hall on primary night and previewed the maps to provide context for the primary results.

Sanders vs. Clinton (and Clinton vs. Obama in '08)

The maps below show vote totals and vote share by municipality for Bernie Sanders (at left) compared with Hillary Clinton's primary victory in 2008 (at right).

Sanders did very well across all parts of the state, receiving 50% or more of the vote (the light- to dark-blue shaded areas at left) in almost all the state's towns or cities. He won the vote in all but five of New Hampshire's municipalities.

He received his largest vote totals in New Hampshire's southeastern cities (such as Concord, Manchester, and Nashua), represented by the larger orange circles on the map. But not surprisingly he had the strongest vote share (70% or more) in the towns along the border next to his home state of Vermont.

Hillary Clinton was also on the New Hampshire primary ballot eight years ago. The map at right shows her path to success in 2008, and how it differs from her loss in this year's primary. She received only 39% of the vote against Barack Obama and several other candidates. Although she only won roughly half the state's municipalities (the one's not outlined in red at right below), most of them were in the state's more populated southeastern area where she received her strongest support (the darker blue areas and larger orange circles). Underlining the fact that success in New Hampshire doesn't necessarily predict electoral success overall, Clinton won New Hampshire that year but ultimately lost the party's nomination to Obama.

Click the maps for larger versions.

CUR New Hampshire primary 2016 Bernie Sanders
CUR New Hampshire primary 2008 Hillary Clinton

The map below at left shows his local vote support across the state. In almost half the state's municipalities (99 of them, the lightly shaded areas), Trump received less than 35% of the vote. In very few towns/cities -- only 5 -- did he receive what would be considered a "resounding" win (50% or more of the vote, the red areas at left).

Trump vs. a half dozen contenders (and Romney vs. 4 others in 2012)

Donald Trump's win in New Hampshire was described in media reports as "decisive" and "resounding". He received 35% of the vote against a field of at least a half dozen other candidates, which exceeded expectations from polls prior to the election that indicated his support was in the 30% range.

Trump's win certainly reflected support from a large part of New Hampshire's population. But his victory was also due to the opposition vote being split across numerous candidates. His support had no clear geographic pattern, unlike Sanders, Clinton in 2008, or even Mitt Romney in 2012 (see map below at right). A multi-candidate race produces a winner, but at the same time leaves a plurality or even majority of voters who did not support the overall winner. If the vote results were cast as Trump vs. all others combined, the "others" in this week's primary would have won by a 2-to-1 margin (Trump's 99,000 or so votes vs 180,000 for the rest of the field). As the NY Times put it, New Hampshire showed "he can win primaries and caucuses when a large Republican field splits the vote."

In 2012, Mitt Romney won the Republican primary with 39% against four other major candidates (see map below at right). Like Clinton four years before, his base of electoral support was the populous southeastern region, receiving his largest vote totals and vote share in those localities, even receiving more than 50% of the vote in 15 communities in that area. Though he lost about a third of the state's municipalities (outlined in blue, bottom right), he won the state and then continued on to win the party's nomination nationwide.

Click the maps for larger versions.

CUR New Hampshire primary 2016 Donald Trump
CUR New Hampshire primary 2012 Mitt Romney